Designated Social Worker Professional Visitors must be tested for Covid-19 on a weekly basis and have negative test results prior to visiting someone in a health or care setting or supported living.

Safe Access

Social Workers must be given priority access to people living in health, care and supported living settings through testing, rigorous infection control, access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

Promoting Rights

Social workers’ core values are built upon social justice and promoting human rights. We need safe access into health and care settings supported living, to promote the rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities.

BASW England, in partnership with BASW Cymru, is launching a campaign for social workers to be recognised as Professional Visitors in health and care settings. You can read a Welsh statement related to the campaign here

SASW fully supports the Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights campaign, and its aim to change guidance in England and Wales. The Scottish government is supporting social workers to access care homes when necessary and is providing testing to ensure this is safe. Please see this update from SASW for more information.

The Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights campaign seeks changes to political and PHE guidance in England and Wales to allow social workers regular, safe access to health and care settings so they can carry out their statutory duties on behalf of public bodies and protect the human rights of citizens in care.

The campaign is in response to the restrictions on visiting and access applied across health and care settings, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As the months have progressed blanket restrictions on visits have been introduced, with social workers being denied access to people and settings.

Therefore, the campaign focuses on enabling safe access through the provision of regular testing for social workers, in order to protect and promote the rights of people in care.

Hospital discharges to care settings

The campaign is crucial to enabling social workers are involved in the initial decision making about discharge arrangements.

  • During the pandemic, major concerns have been raised around how the rush to get people out of hospital is driving decision-making and putting the rights and safety of people at risk.
  • Healthwatch UK’s research into the experiences of people leaving hospital during Covid-19 echoes the findings of a recent BASW survey, which found 80% of respondents said they did not receive a follow up visit to have their needs assessed in the community.
  • Restrictive practices, such as isolation for 14 days on admission to care settings, raises serious concerns about consent, capacity, objection and best interests. This level of interference with people's human rights is happening without any independent scrutiny.

Without access to care and health settings, social workers are struggling to carry out mental capacity assessments or weigh in the balance what is in a person’s best interests, necessary and proportionate and the least restrictive option. There is a heavy reliance on third party or incomplete information to inform professional judgements which raises ethical dilemmas and challenges.

BASW recognises the value and importance of working in partnership with families, friends and Carers and is aligned with organisations that are actively advocating for their safe access to health and care settings. 

We will be approaching key stakeholders across the health sector to join our campaign to ensure social workers can respond to the human rights challenges of Covid-19, in order to promote the wellbeing of people and families affected by blanket restrictions as we approach the winter months.

Join our campaign to ensure social workers can respond to the human rights challenges of Covid-19 and to promote the wellbeing of people and families affected by blanket restrictions, as we approach the winter months.


Additional information and resources:

Social workers are listed as essential workers in both England and Wales for the purpose of testing:

Testing is currently only available if a social worker has symptoms, not as part of a testing regime:

Regular testing would offer health and care settings assurance about providing access to the setting:


CQC Out of Sight- Who Cares?’ report that there is ongoing evidence of excessive use of prolonged and long-term seclusion, segregation, restraint and human rights violations and abuse in hospital and care settings:

Our regulatory professional standards state: Promote the rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities